This paper lists the following signposts to the provision of market-led microfinancial services that reflect MicroSave's experience with its Action Research Partners:
Vision and mission statements: They focus on profitability by designing, developing and delivering quality customer responsive financial services.
A competent board that prevents mission drift and supports a customer-focused agenda.
The executive function:
Focus on the customers;
Ensure balance between the functions of marketing and operations;
Hire and develop competent senior management;
Plan the future;
Be aware of the competition.
Development and retaining of customer-focused staff by investing in:
Training on delivering client focused services;
Effective internal communication;
Building staff capacity;
Staff incentive schemes.
Retaining customer-focus in the front-office operations through:
A marketing department that maintains a customer-focus in all activities;
A research department that looks into customer requirements;
A strong brand;
A feedback loop that welcomes suggestions from customers;
A pleasant banking environment;
Branch managers, who are knowledgeable about their local community.
Support from back office operations in continually improving products and processes by:
Pilot testing major changes;
Actively managing risk;
An information technology (IT) department that develops customer-friendly IT solutions;
An internal audit aimed at ensuring efficient service delivery and customer satisfaction.
The paper concludes that a market-led transformation is beneficial to a financial institution in terms of increasing profitability and outreach. However, the institution needs to use great skill to take care of the resulting growth.